BEST OF THE BEST OF 2011: Rolling Stone’s Top 50

I’m going to be honest with you guys, doing this is completely fucking impossible.  It’s excruciating.  Try to read all of these actual lists, then try to have an actual opinion about each of the releases listed on them, and then try to express that opinion like four or five different ways, according to how many times somebody lists Bon Iver.  Go ahead.  Give me eight Bon Iver jokes.  I dare you.  See?  Impossible.  There are not eight funny things about Bon Iver.  There is maybe the fact that a guy whose music is a go-for-broke attempt to get laid has a dumb French name that he gets all pissy about mispronouncing.  It’s supposed to rhyme with "Bone Eater."  I don’t know for sure that he’s trying to get laid.  I just assume.  Maybe he’s trying to convince you that he feels something first and then getting laid later by seeming accident.  By dint of not wanting to think everybody is a total puss, I prefer to think that’s what all sensitive singer-songwriters are doing.  Which is fine.  I prefer the go-for-even-broker method of a Mötley Crüe, because they’re not only trying to get laid, they’re trying to get freak nasty.  And they have a sense of humor too.  But that’s me.  That strikes me as at least being honest.  Anyhow, that "Bone Eater" thing is like maybe 75% of one funny thing.  It’s a stretch.  I’d much rather listen to a band called "Bone Eater."

Holy shit.  Check out this YouTube.

I would rather watch that trailer on a loop for 3 hours than listen to any one Bon Iver song all the way through.

So.  As you will soon see, I’m stuck making the lamest joke I can possibly make and moving on because the alternative is actually listening to these things enough to understand their essence, then making THE joke about them, and then moving on to the next one and doing it all over again.  AND THEN moving on to the next list and doing it all over again again.  For the sake of my own sanity, I have no choice but to just say, "Fucked UP?  More like Fucked Out of $20, am I right?!" and hope you’ll forgive me.  Put yourself in my shoes.  This music is fucking awful.  Even if it’s good, it’s awful.  Because I resent it.  I resent choosing to do this to myself.

50. The Lonely Island "Turtleneck & Chain": 
Let’s say I knew a few people who work on a TV show and I visited the set earlier this year and then partook in some TV network’s free transportation service, during which we saw a giant billboard of the Lonely Island guys in a certain high-publicity zone of real estate, and the consensus in the car at the time was "boy it’s great that a vodka company paid for their entire giant billboard, what a great windfall?"  Would you A. think I was being a starfucker for telling you this, B. believe me when I told you that it filled me with revulsion and dread, or C. rightfully assume that making a bunch of comedy joke songs about "what if us nerds were rich and young and attractive and famous" when that’s actually what you are is kind of not that funny?

49. Wavves "Life Sux EP":  You know what?  This guy is great.  Not his fault he’s a total pussy who got propped up by the hype machine without paying his dues.  He’s got guitar tone.  Electric guitar tone.  So what if it came from Garageband?  There’s no right way or wrong way to do it and we need all the help we can get these days.

48. Charles Bradley "No Time For Dreaming": 
New rule: if you’re going to do a soul revival album, you have to be older than 60 so you’ll have some memories of actual institutionalized racism rather than just a black cultural take on the same inequality of opportunity and poverty cycle that poor white and Hispanic folks also face (and that hip hop is the official music for).  Otherwise you’re just going to sound like a musical equivalent of that "my parents were fucking awesome before they had me " blog.  Which is always like "yeah, you’re right, I want to go hang out with your parents instead of you."  Charles Bradley invented this new rule.  It’s the Charles Bradley Rule.  Charles Bradley was, and is, fucking awesome.

47. PJ Harvey "Let England Shake":  What is the retirement package like for people like PJ Harvey?

46. White Denim "D":  A joyful outburst of exuberance.  I am describing the fart I just busted.

45. Tedeschi Trucks Band "Revelator": 
I had never heard of this.  I’m not sure how I would have heard of this without specifically looking for it.  Maybe it’s idiotic of me not to have heard of this.  I just looked it up on Wikipedia.  Two musicians from Jacksonville.  So what.  They seem like the kind of people you see by accident at a State Fair while you’re visiting your cousin and that make you wish there was such a thing as chair pants.  On to YouTube for testing this theory.  Yes.  Turns out it’s impeccably produced Bonnie Raitt-esque pleasant and empty porch-swing songwriting in the shitty nihilist tradition of the Eagles.  Example chorus: "I’ve been thinking, yes I’ve been thinking, I’ve been thinking, oh about you baby, oh such a long long time."  Great investigation, me.  You just destroyed 15 minutes of your life trying to figure out the deeper meaning of the musical equivalent of a framed saying in a truckstop gift shop, and you had a feeling that’s what it was in the first place.

44. Raphael Saadiq "Stone Rollin’":  Sorry bud.  You are in violation of the Charles Bradley Rule.

43. The Kills "Blood Pressures": 
I always thought that The Kills were just some record company version of White Stripes like how Stone Temple Pilots and Bush were more easily controllable approximations of the also-bad first wave of grunge.  Like "hmmm" these hacks have some sort of social code where they have to pretend that it’s all about the music," let’s find some hacks who don’t have that issue.  Now that I’ve listened to this, though, I know.  I no longer think.

42. Destroyer "Kaputt":  It’s great that Dan Bejar is finally making fun of being as boring as he actually is.

41. Little Dragon "Ritual Union": 
Yet another synthy pop album that begs the question "Are there men in Sweden?"

40. Gary Clark Jr. "Bright Lights EP": 
Unlike his namesake, he is not a diminutive speedster who stretched defenses vertically to open up secondary lanes in the running game for Ernest Byner, intermediary passes to Art Monk, and huge swaths of ground in the middle for slot receiver Ricky Sanders.  Gary Clark was a completely underrated part of two Super Bowl Championship offenses as well as a four time Pro Bowl selection and member of the 10,000 yard club over an 11 year NFL career, and as such has a legitimate claim to the Hall of Fame.  Gary Clark Jr. is basically just Lenny Kravitz again.

39. Kurt Vile "Smoke Ring For My Halo": 
I’ve got no beef with this.  This is crazy: do you realize that Keenan McCardell is 25th on the all time career receiving yards list?  How’s that for under the radar?  Keenan McFuckinCardell.  Huh.  I’ll be damned.

38. Mastodon "The Hunter":  Is the Metallica Black Album the worst album of all time?  I feel like it is in a certain category.  Like "worst album by a band that kicked total ass then the best band member, the bass player, which is never a good sign anyway, was crushed in a bus crash and then they still kicked some ass but then decided to stop kicking ass and started releasing moody chart-friendly brooders with the same name as Clint Eastwood movies."  The Hunter is "worst album by a band that kicked total ass but also was always kind of weird anyway because they did like these really obtuse concept albums at the same time as kicking total ass, and anyway there’s probably only so much metal-riff shredding you can do until you get bored so even though this album is a bunch of chart-friendly moody brooders they get a pass as keepers of the flame."

My son sounding like Lenny Kravitz is FEAR NUMBER ONE!

37. Panda Bear "Tomboy":  "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" was a medium-funny movie.  The best part was when he got really into acid and grew a beard and they basically just wailed on Brian Wilson.  The fake music they recorded for it, where Matt Besser’s like, "This is not a good song.  It’s like five songs on top of each other at the same time?"  Brilliant.  Also: Panda Bear.

36. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks "Mirror Traffic": 
Lil’ Chunklet history.  In issue something something back in nineteen ninety never there was an contributor application quiz that was pretty funny.  Best joke on it: "When did Pavement start to suck?"  I loved that gag.  It reveals so many layers of music fan.  The best answer is "right away."  The rock music nerd answer is "right after Drag City."  If pressed, I’d go for "the nanosecond Stephen Malkmus realized he was fronting Preston School of Industry."  Anyhow, we can all agree there’s been some sucking.

35. Dawes "Nothing Is Wrong": 
I once went to a party where the kitchen was full of shrill, desperate-to-seem-like-adults young women in Urban Outfitters clothes and the couch was full of dudes sitting smoking a pot vaporizer and watching "The Last Waltz" on Blu-Ray.  I instantly felt a white-hot rage at my girlfriend for working part time at Gymboree and therefore knowing these people in the first place.  I’m glad to know there’s an album for that.

34. SuperHeavy "SuperHeavy": 
Is there an unholier cross-genre alliance than hip hop and jam bands?  What about if you threw some reggae in there?

33. Josh T. Pearson "Last of the Country Gentlemen":  Soulful, bare songs of redemption and loss which… HEY!  Titty on the cover!

32. Big K.R.I.T. "Return of 4Eva":  To summarize; I’m black, I like having money, I like to display the amount of money I have, I smoke pot and drive cars, I’m inconsiderate of other people’s feelings, I like to fuck women, I have a recording contract which pays me a large amount of money to tell you about all of this.

31. Miranda Lambert "Four The Record":  I put this on and it’s the last thing I remember before waking up on the kitchen floor with a throbbing headache.  I was worried something was wrong so I called the doctor and he was like, "This is very important.  Was it contemporary popular country?"  And I was like "yeah."  And he was like "Are you an idiot?"  I said "hey man, I’m asking you for medical advice here, I didn’t call you up to be insulted."  And he said, "no, that’s a medical question, not a rhetorical question.  Are you an idiot?"  And I said, "Oh, I see, no.  No I am not."  And then he was like, "Then don’t listen to contemporary country or injuries like this will happen.  Basically, you listened to idiot music and your brain immediately fell asleep.  It’s very dangerous."

30. Tom Morello, The Nightwatchman "World Wide Rebel Songs": 
The Clash : Rage Against The Machine :: Big Audio Dynamite : this.

29. Pistol Annies "Hell on Heels": 
Ugh, why am I on the Kitchen Floor?  My nose is bleeding.

28. Das Racist "Relax": 
Das Racist are the Animal Collective of hip hop.  At first you’re like, "Oh, maybe this is interesting," and then you’re like, "What is this feeling?  Oh, right, it’s tension.  I’m being annoyed right now.  That’s what that is."

27. Florence and the Machine "Ceremonials": 
I liked Florence and the Machines a lot better the first time, back when they were called Annie Lennox.

26. St. Vincent "Strange Mercies": 
I liked Florence and the Machines a lot better the first time, back when they were called Annie Lennox.

25. Beyonce "4": 
Beyonce emerges with an album that predicts her final resting place on the attractiveness scale.

24. Frank Ocean "Nostalgia, Ultra":  I kind of love how this album is listed on so many best of lists but always in the 10-30 range.  It’s like every critic got together and said, "You know what, you guys?  That Frank Ocean album was medium good!"  "Yeah, it really was medium good!  I thought when I got the promo copy that it wouldn’t be any more than medium bad, but it really was better than that!"

23. Tom Waits "Bad As Me":
  He’s 62 now.  You mean to tell me that at age 62, this guy is still "spooky and dangerous?"  My Dad is 62.  He falls asleep at 9 pm.

22. Drake "Take Care": 
Drake doesn’t look like the same guy who’s making this music.  He looks like his real name is Ricky and he works at a cell phone store but goes clubbing on the weekends and pretends he’s actually an awesome dude.  We’re all living in a "Weekend Ricky" universe that exists only inside of Ricky’s mind.  I feel like somebody should whisper, "We love you Ricky.  We love you Ricky, Ricky, Ricky, Ricky…" so he’ll wake up to his Mom shaking him and telling him to clean up the dog puke in the kitchen.

21. Bone Eater "Bone Eater":
  Crushing, massive guitar riffs that can not, will not be denied, plus pummeling, unbearably intense drums and bass which despite all the ruckus still manages to insert a modicum of funky sexiness to the proceedings.  Archly humorous lyrics delivered with a D.O.A. deadpan that speaks volumes without giving anything away.  Opposite day.

20. Foo Fighters "Wasting Light": 
Includes a painful farewell to Kurt Cobain.  Just like every other Foo Fighters song ever.

19. Eric Church "Chief": 
The tragedy of meth is that it robbed some of our country’s shittiest areas of an entire generation of shitty people that really helped to make those shitty areas as shitty as they were.  Now those areas have been decimated and the only survivors are self-righteous Jesus freak types who wouldn’t know fun if is blasted them in the face with a bazooka.  But you know what?  It looks like there’s a new generation of shitkickers in country music, espousing the "get drunk as shit and high on weed but don’t fuck with meth and you’ll be alright" ethos, and Eric Church is apparently leading the charge.  It’s good.  Our south needs its shitkickers back.  It’s been too long of you guys have looking like complete fucking tightasses to the rest of the country.

18. Feist "Metals":  Huh, Feist put out an album this year but it wasn’t on anybody else’s list.  I find that strange.  I find that to be a Strange Mercy.

17. TV on the Radio "Nine Types of Light": 
If you spend an entire career throwing new musical elements into the mix and never ever being one thing, you might just be able to make a lot of money without ever actually doing anything well.  You just have to be really really good at subterfuge.  That’s what TV on the Radio is good at.  It’s their one type of light.

16. R.E.M. "Collapse Into Now": 
I’d say "Good band, bad era: influenced Guided By Voices" as a fairly accurate epitaph for these guys.  They were in existence for 31 years.  It was a long bad era.  Also, Guided By Voices is so fucking good.

15. Cage the Elephant "Thank You Happy Birthday": 
My brother got backstage passes to see these guys at some outdoor festival in Philly, and after looking at their YouTubes for like 20 minutes I decided, "You absolutely need to steal their beer."  They are the ultimate "Worth getting kicked out for getting caught trying to steal their beer" band.  I want to take the stolen from Cage the Elephant stolen beer taste test, where you get a nice cold free Bell’s Third Coast and then a warm Coors Light stolen from Cage the Elephant.  I’d take the warm Coors Light, and keep ’em coming.

High resolution image scan of prolonged exposure to Contemporary Country

14. Beastie Boys "Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2":  "We’re the Beastie Boys, a jugga jugga jugga!  Jugga jugga jugga, a jugga jugga jugga!"  Ch-ching!  BEST JOB EVER.

13. tUnE-yArDs "Whokill": 
You know what Adam Ant needed more of?  The completely delusional swagger of a "really good" college A Capella group.

12. The Black Keys "El Camino": 
With this album I celebrate my 10th year of deciding not to force myself to have an opinion about the Black Keys.  I’ve been not there since the beginning.  I’ve not cared much through thick and thin, through triumph and tribulation, and now here I am, completely indifferent to the success of a band that had to work for it the old fashioned way: by playing music I didn’t care about.  Congratulations, you guys.  I still don’t care.  But you know what?  You really earned it.  And not a lot of bands I don’t care about can say that.  Not that I would care if they did.

11. My Morning Jacket "Circuital":
  These guys are the America to Radiohead’s Neil Young ("Everybody’s Rockin’" era).

10. Robbie Robertson "How To Become Clairvoyant": 
I had MTV growing up.  It’s nice to hear that the genre of "music I fucking hated when I was 8 years old but nonetheless tolerated because there was a model with a tanktop in the video" has not gone away.

9. Wild Flag "Wild Flag": 
Wild Flag is a fun band.  Ok?  You got me.  I like a thing.

8. Wilco "The Whole Love": 
Oh, they did like some electronic things on this one.  Ok.

7. The Decemberists "The King Is Dead": 
I just see this and I feel like Edward Gunsforhands working at the barrel-of-fish factory.

6. Lady Gaga "Born This Way": 
I don’t care that I’m wrong, I still think there’s a chance she’s just kidding and I want to love her for it.

5. Radiohead "The King of Limbs": 
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great.  It’s fucking amazing.  I’m not saying it’s not amazing.  It’s Radiohead, so you know it’s amazing, just sight unseen.  I’m just saying, and I hate to say this, but this is not the best Radiohead album, you guys.  I’d say it’s probably like the 4th best Radiohead album.  If pressed, I would maybe put it in the 5th best spot, AND DON’T LAUGH, but I would maybe even put it behind "Amnesiac."  Call me crazy, you wouldn’t be the first, okay?  Ha ha ha, yeah, thanks man.  I was real worried about putting myself out there like that, but I knew I could trust you guys to understand.  You’re the best friends a guy could ask for on a Radiohead-forum message board on the internet.  The idiots over at Yahoo! Answers all have their heads up their asses.  Their RADIOHEADS up their asses, I should say!  LOL!!!!

4. Fleet Foxes "Helplessness Blues": 
The YouTube user who posted the title track says, "I really think these guys deserve more attention."  It has over a million hits.  If you can post a million-plus hit YouTube and still actually think that the Fleet Foxes deserve more attention, the problem is not that they’re not getting enough attention.  The problem is there’s not enough attention to give.  Worldwide.  It’s as if everybody’s so insecure and needy they feel threatened by the fact that only a million people like something they also like.  That’s runaway attention inflation, and it’s causing a worldwide attention deficit.  Right?  I eagerly await your opinion in the comments section.

3. Paul Simon "So Beautiful Or So What": 
I actually love this album.  More for the between the lines stuff than the songs, although I think that Simon’s writing is as good now as its ever been.  I just also think that the fact that his songwriting is so sharp now is a gigantic fuck you to the Tune-Yardses and The Very Bests and the My Morning Jackets and the everybody else who’s not Paul Simons of the world.  This album is a 2011 whip my huge dick out move by Paul Simon.  "FUCK YOU, I INVENTED BORING ROCK."  He even looks grumpy nowadays.  His face went meek, meek, meek, meek, MEEK, GRUMPY.

2. Jay-Z and Kanye West "Watch the Throne":
  These two are gonna be surprised as hell when they die just like everybody else.

1. Adele "21":  Am I just the most myopic person alive, or does it seem like even the most popular music is as hard to keep track of as anything else these days?  Maybe I’m doing everything wrong, but I had honestly never even heard of Adele until I started doing all of these lists.  And like 2 million people ACTUALLY BOUGHT her album this year.  That’s fucking crazy.  Until like three weeks ago I knew as much about Adele as each of those 2 million people still and probably always will know about Apache Dropout.  It’s pretty indicative of my singed neurons that I can hear something like this and be like "I don’t know, it just sounds like MUSIC" as much as my Mom can hear my favorite song of the year and tell me it just sounds like noise.  But that’s what it is.  It’s music.  For people who are like "OH GOOD, I LOVE MUSIC" whenever they see something that says "Now That’s What I Call Music" on it.  And she’s got a great voice.  She’s very good at singing music.  I think I hate music, you guys.  I’m, like, almost worried about it.

My name is Ricky and I’m going to sell you a phone today.